“Scissors for the Drifter” (Episode 107)
July 14, 2019
Last week on NOS4A2, the Wraith ran down Maggie and, while it didn’t kill her physically, it murdered all of her beliefs. Meanwhile, Vic, still at the hospital, met up with Jolene, the strong creative from Charlie’s past. Jolene recovered her vigor and used her knife to show Vic the path to killing Charlie Manx. Destroy the Wraith! She also gave Vic the keys to getting out of the psych hospital. In character development, we got a lot of backstory on younger Charlie Manx and his time with Jolene from 1954.
Now, on to tonight’s all new episode of NOS4A2, “Scissors for the Drifter” … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
Haverhill, Massachusetts. Nighttime at Casa de McQueen and Vic is in bed. She hears the phone ringing but when she heads downstairs, Linda seems to be oblivious to the shrill ringing. Vic picks up the receiver (which frosts over) and is relieved to hear Haley on the other end. It’s short lived though because Haley makes it clear to Vic that she has no interest in leaving Christmasland, oh the friends she has now! Another girl hops on the line and tells Vic that they are all holding her responsible for “Father Christmas” not returning to Christmasland for a dog’s age.
So, when Father Christmas inevitably brings Vic to Christmasland, they are going to play “scissors for the drifter” with Vic and he promises, “it will be SO fun!”
We come back to the next morning and Charlie is not looking great as he tries to repair the Wraith. The Wraith is in even worse shape as it’s leaking oil or water. It’s leaking something. Cut to Charlie hobbling down a road when an unsuspecting man and his son drive by and pick him up. Howdies are exchanged and Charlie limps inside the pickup.
As Casa de McQueen, Vic learns that Linda sold the dirtbike while she was in the hospital and has a flip out. Linda is all, “I’m the parent and no better” and Vic is willing to go as far as saying Linda is “something, alright.”
Outside, Vic calls Maggie and begs her to use the Scrabble Tiles to locate the bike or even a different knife that she can use. Maggie is all, “tossed the tiles, sorry not sorry.” Vic mentions the creepy ass long distance phone call from Christmasland. The prospect of Daniel almost breaks through to Maggie but she hangs up in a rush, worried she’d cave on her decision to be done with the Tiles. Maggie pops some pills after hanging up, we also see she’s on crutches.
The Shorter Way. Vic literally runs to the Shorter Way and plays through a greatest of her conversations with Maggie and Charlie, thinking about Maggie being gone but it’s no good, the Bridge doesn’t appear without her knife. She dials up her dad and Chris, looking super hungover, confesses to not putting up much of a fight to Linda selling the bike or much of a defense about not coming to see Vic in the hospital .
When Vic says she wants to go to Bike Week, it’s an annual tradition, Chris agrees (over Tiffany’s objections).
Gunbarrel, Colorado. Travis (the dad) (Danny Deferrari) and Bradley (the son) (Pierson Salvador) are saying goodbye to Charlie, wishing him good luck on his water pump. Bradley remarks that Charlie is old AF and while his dad scolds him to be nice, Charlie appreciates his honesty. He tries to pass Bradley a candy cane as a reward but Dad is all, “nopers, too much sugar is bad for your teeth.” The shrug Charlie gives is classic.
Mofo, you totally just made Charlie’s “Bad Parent” List.
Inside the Gunbarrel General Store, Charlie asks for 10 bottles of coolant and permission to use the proprietor’s “telephone machine.” Yes, that seems totally normal but, the owner, Sam (Larry Vigus), is a Father Christmas looking-type himself and just chuckles at Charlie’s old man vernacular. He tells Charlie he looks just like a man the locals call “Father Christmas” and Charlie confirms he’s the man’s grandfather.
Charlie calls Bing and explains that he needs him to fly to Colorado. Today. Yes, Col-o-rado, he slowly enunciates for his Number One Henchmen. While he’s waiting for Bing to grab a pen to write down the address, Charlie turns around to find Bradley standing there. Bradley looks a bit ensorcelled and Charlie whips out the candy cane from earlier. He’s all, “don’t let your cruel father stop you, I know where you can get a shiny new set of teeth if need be …” Bradley hesitates and then swipes the candy cane. Charlie is VERY happy.
Haverhill, Massachusetts. Vic confronts Bing at the high school and catches him up on his boss’s latest exploits … like running over Maggie Lee with his car. Bing is all angry and panicked looking and even more so when Vic produces a police file one sheet on Ives, the man that Bing replaced. She explains that everyone that works for Manx winds up dead. She tells Bing she knows that Charlie has a house in the real world, so where is it located?
Bing pushes Vic up against a locker, he really doesn’t like all this, “Charlie is going to kill you too” talk.
“Tell your lies. Mess with my head. But know that you can end up dead.”
Bing is fucking poet, y’all. The bell rings and this snaps Bing out of his maniacal hold on Vic.
Here, Iowa Hospital. Sheriff Joe is waiting for Maggie as she comes out of her check-up at the hospital. She denies taking anything for the pain (interesting). Joe remarks that her stutter has stopped and she tells him that she tossed her Tiles. Joe is taken aback by this news given her attachment to the Scrabble Tiles but moves on. He tells Maggie she should stay with him until she’s all better but she begs off, swearing she’s fine. Joe says he knows her history and is worried she may get herself into trouble again. Maggie admits to taking the pills they gave her but, she finished the script and they wouldn’t refill it so, easy peasy addiction wheezy. The scene ends as Joe confirms that ditching the Scrabble Tiles means Maggie isn’t doing any more serial killer chasing and she confirms she’s done with all that.
Gunbarrel, Colorado. Bing is finishing loading the Wraith on to a flatbed tow truck (from Ben’s Towing but, where is Ben?!?) and Charlie has some instructions for him. Saying that he’ll be too weak to talk by the time they get to the scrap yard, Charlie tells Bing that the proprietress MUST sell Bing a water pump for the car and Bing must install it ASAP. Charlie’s life will quite literally depend upon it.
Bing is having a sulk-fest and Charlie calls him on it. Bing asks after Peter Ives and whether Charlie killed him? Charlie says that Peter and the others that came before him made it to Christmasland’s gates but, ultimately, couldn’t enter because they were “naughty, not nice.” Bing is feeling that 100%
“Naughty boys can’t go to Christmasland.”
Charlies assures his simple friend that as long as he remains on the nice list, Bing has nothing to fear. Charlie is anxious to get the show on the road but is curious where all these questions are coming from? Bing confesses to speaking with Vic at school and Charlie is ready for this because he is a MASTER manipulator. Charlie tells Bing that he’s too smart to let a woman fool him into false beliefs. This may be the first time that ANYONE has ever called Bing “smart” and he eats the praise up with a spoon. Charlie adds to this confirming that Bing is smart AND nice. He rips a hair from Bing’s chin but then laughs in it (terrifying in the old man stage he’s at) and Bing smiles at their shared … joke? Force hair exfoliation? I dunno, but when Charlie laughs, it’s probably a good idea to laugh too.
Haverhill, Massachusetts. Drew and Vic walk down a street, holding hands and talking about dorm room art that Drew will buy her. Vic talks about how she and her grandmother lived for Bob Ross’s “happy trees” (who didn’t, amiright?!?) and she talks about her grandmother (together with Bob Ross and comic books) taught her to paint.
Vic remarks that those were simpler times and Drew calls bullshit on this.
“Nostalgia’s a funny thing. Makes the past seem better. Like something it never was.”
Vic doesn’t respond to this but instead says it’s almost time for her to leave for Bike Week. Drew wants her to stay and then grows more serious. Drew drops a lot of (correct) but unsolicited truth on Vic, mentioning how she deserves better from a father that walked out on her and wouldn’t even visit her in the hospital. Vic, never one to take criticism well, gets her dander up and fires back that Drew’s parents shipped him off to Boarding School. Drew defends this as them wanting him to get a good education but the battle lines are drawn. She responds to Drew’s claim that no matter what, his parents have always been there for him. Vic explains that it’s easier to be there for your kid when there is money to be had and when you didn’t have the kid as a teenage pregnancy and “two tours in the Gulf.”
“It’s also easier when you’re not drunk.”
At this accurate, yet low blow, commentary from Drew, Vic turns on her heel and storms away. Drew is left standing there, wondering how that all fell apart so fast.
Vic waits on her own as Chris motors down the street on his motorcycle. No Tiffany, it’ll be just the two of them. Vic is palpably relieved to be back with her father.
Bike Week. Vic and Chris wander through the bikes lined up side by side and reminisce about this being the place she found her dirtbike forever ago. Chris asks if she wants to get some food but Vic wants to keep looking for a new ride.
Nebraska. We’re back at the junk yard that we last saw Maggie and Sheriff Joe visit in Episode 2. Mrs. Myers (Brenda Wehle) is settling in for her day when her TV gets all static-y. When the tow truck and Wraith roll up, ALL of the blood drains from Mrs. Myers’ face. Bing trots up to her, asking if she’s the “proprietress”? Mrs. Myers recovers herself enough to nod and Bing explains that he needs a water pump for a ’38 Rolls Royce Wraith.
Bing catches Mrs. Myers eyeing SUPER OLD looking Charlie in the tow truck and he explains that “grandpa is tired after the long trip.” Mrs. Myers is all, yep, I think I have a water pump for a Wraith, let me check my inventory while you get the car unloaded. When Bing trots out, looking victorious, Mrs. Myers frantically searches for and then dials Sheriff Joe’s phone number.
Here, Iowa. Sheriff Joe finds Maggie on bus bench. He runs up to tell her the exciting news about the Wraith surfacing in Nebraska. He tell her that he’s got uniform police going to check it out. Maggie is non-responsive and Joe realizes that she looks high as a kite. Like, on the verge of passing out, high. Joe searches her bag and finds the pills she’s all doped up on. His worst fears confirmed, he lifts Maggie up and tells her that he’s going to get her home.
Bike Week. Maggie and Chris are checking out a dirtbike but Maggie has a face that says, “this isn’t it.” The owner offers her a chance to take a test ride but she only needs to start it up to know her instinct was right. She gets off saying it’s not what she’s looking for. Chris has a confused as she walks away and tells her it that this bike is even better than her old one. Food, she needs food, Chris decides.
Inside the bar, Chris is kicking back beers as he repeats that the bike they just saw was perfect for Vic. Vic cracks about the speed of his drinking and he tells her that she sounds “like Linda.” He apologizes for being a screw-up lately in the dad department and she’s all, “I’ve heard this before.” He offers empty apologies for it also not working out living with him and Tiffany. Vic tells him that she’s ready for a couple of beers herself and hops off her stool to get them. Chris, being the bad dad that he is, doesn’t stop her.
As Vic makes her way to the bar, she passes a payphone that is ringing. Like her mother before, no one seems to hear this except for Vic. She backs up to the phone and takes a deep breath. When it rings again, Vic lifts the receiver which frosts over instantly.
“Come visit us in Christmasland, Vic McQueen. Take your Bridge and bring us something to eat.”
Vic goes on the offensive, threatening this nameless girl that she better not hurt Haley. We cut to Christmasland where the girl (Mattea Conforti) and Ghoul Haley are standing shoulder to shoulder listening to the conversation. She explains that Haley is her friend, a duh, and Father hasn’t been around in forever. So come to Christmasland because “we’re very hungry.”
This doesn’t seem like the best invite ever. The nameless girl seizes the silence from Vic’s end of the phone and drops some verses, straight of the Bing poetry slam book. It’s too good not to recite in full:
“Poor old Vic McQueen. Her father a drunk, her mother a mean. Early motherhood awaits her, with no man to wed her. Unless she can find it within to give thanks, to her new friend and savior, Millie Manx.”
Mic Drop. Phone Click.
Vic makes her way back to the high top with her two beers in hand and finds Craig has popped in for a visit. He offers Vic a souvenir pin as she slams a 12 oz. can in one long pull. Damn, gurl. Chris watches his daughter in silence. Craig is all, “the hell is happening here?”
Vic turns to her father and asks to hear why he bought her big red all those years ago. She’s not buying the “lit up like a Christmas tree” story anymore and calls him on his physical abuse. She tells her father the bike was an apology to Vic for beating up on Linda and Vic says they’ve all known that Vic has heard everything all along. Her voice is raising and Craig is REALLY regretting coming out to Bike Week.
She tells her father the bike was an apology for nothing just like his shitty apology from earlier works to forgive abandoning her and then not visiting her in the hospital. Chris’s feeble response is to claim her drinking the beers and making a scene is her trying to act like an adult.
“It’s not my job to be the adult. It’s not my job.”
Chris sits a moment and then tells his daughter that he hopes she never knows the feeling of disappointing those you love but, assures her that if she keeps drinking beer like he does … and she’ll surely find out.
Vic scoffs at this ironic advice and leaves with her helmet under her arm. Craig chases her outside.
Craig stops her and she unloads her troubles on him. She goes off about losing the bike, and hence, her knife. And, without her knife, she can’t save Haley. And that she hoped she’d be able to get a new bike here but her father is useless and always has been. Craig picks up on this last part as something he understands and tells Vic that he doesn’t care about her dad. Or her Bridge or Haley, Craig just wants to know if she’s alright.
Um, no Craig. Does she look alright to you?!?
Vic takes a breath at this question and it seems like she’s seeing Craig for the first time, standing in front of her. She asks to see the souvenir pin he got her. She takes it and pins it to her boot. She tells Craig that she loves it and asks for him to take her home. They ride off.
We didn’t get a good look at it but the pin looked like angel wings (not unlike on the hood ornament of the Wraith?!?).
Nebraska. Charlie is keeled over and looks as old and dead as we’ve ever seen him. Bing, working on the car, assures his boss that it won’t be much longer.
Mrs. Myers comes out as we hear police sirens in the distance. Charlie yells for Bing to hurry. Mrs. Myers turns on Manx, saying she knows who he is and that she knows he took her son and grandson.
“You’re gonna die here. Or, in jail. You little rat face.”
Sick Burn, Mrs. Myers.
Bing doesn’t like this talk at all and hurries up with the car fixing. Done with the repairs, Bing asks Charlie to promise he’ll not do him like he did Peter Ives, that he promises to take Bing to Christmasland. Charlie makes the logical point that he can’t take Bing anywhere if they’re in jail and tells him to fill the coolant. Done, he tells Bing to start the car.
As soon as the Wraith turns over, comes alive, Charlie begins to de-age right before our eyes. It’s an impressive effect to watch and leaves Mrs. Myers looking on in pure terror (and Bing, in pure delight). Back to his old self, Young Charlie has some words for Mrs. Myers on her parenting skills. Charlie accuses Judith Miller of providing her son, Robert, with a life of sour chewing tobacco and motor grease and none of the mother’s love he deserved. Judith drops to the ground of a shock/terror induced heart attack. Charlie kneels over her dying body and assures Mrs. Myers that Robert, Jr. is very happy in Christmasland but sadly, Robert went the way of Mrs. Myers here. Manx stops Bing from helping the woman.
“Leave the old bitch to die as she lived, all alone and surrounded by refuse.”
He and Bing skedaddle. But, not before Charlie picks up Sheriff’s Joe’s business card which Judith was grasping when she collapsed. They get into the Wraith just as the cops pull up and surround them, Mrs. Myers dead body laying next to the car.
The State Troopers run to Mrs. Myers’ body, ignoring the Wraith and its occupants. Bing question how they don’t see them? Not quite, Charlie explains.
“They don’t notice us.”
The Wraith drives off.
Haverhill, Massachusetts. We come back from break with Craig and Vic arriving at his house. Craig’s mama is passed out on the couch, drunk or high (or both). Is there any sober parent in Haverhill … besides Linda?
Meanwhile, Chris makes it home to find Tiffany passed our on their couch. Chris stands and heads into the kitchen where he cleans up empties; there are at least 6 beers cans in the kitchen (plus two on the floor next to Tiffany sleeping on the couch) and a half drunk bottle of bourbon. Chris tosses them all in the trash.
Back at Craig’s house, the teenagers enter his room and Vic sits down on Craig’s bed. She picks up a picture sitting on Craig’s nightstand. It’s a school picture of Vic from years ago; second grade Craig confirms. She tells him she hasn’t slept since she was sedated in the hospital so he lights up his bong and she takes a drag. Her coughing fit confirms that she really doesn’t do this often but it works to settle her down. She pulls Craig closer to her as she tries to fall asleep.
It’s not in a sexual way, hope as Craig might, but really in a security blanket kind of way.
Here, Iowa. Maggie rolls over in bed and finds a sandwich, water, and a note waiting for her. In short, it says Joe gets times are tough and that she’s staying with him until she’s better. “I believe in you!” is how the note ends.
Maggie limps down the hallway on her crutches, calling out to Joe that she’s sorry for being an ass and that he really doesn’t need to do all this. In the kitchen, she finds the sink faucet running, but no Joe. Drawn by blue lights outside, Maggie finds a Sheriff’s squad car running, it’s police lights turning and Christmas music playing from inside. Pinned to a wiper blade is a candy cane and Sheriff Joe’s business card.
Christmasland. At the gates to Christmasland, Charlie stops the car and tells Bing to wait there. The Wraith door pops open. Bing starts to whine that he wants to go in, that Charlie promised. Charlie acknowledges his promises but reminds Bing that it involved saving 10 children and also, remaining on Charlie’s Nice List.
Bing asks if he’s still on the Nice List and Charlie tells Bing that he should be worried as to his status. After the “shenanigans” at the scrap yard, Bing is on thin ice. He warns Bing to not let Vic McQueen get inside his head again. But, for now, he remains on the Nice List. He tells Bing to wait outside the gate for now so Charlie can make his delivery and then they’ll head back to work.
“Your time will come, Bing.”
Indeed, Bing. Indeed. That is a double entendre if I ever heard one. After Bing gets out, the gates open and Charlie drives through. They close just as fast, right in Bing’s face. Inside, Charlie opens the boot and Sheriff Joe, hopped up on gingerbread gas, rolls out. He’s wondering where they are? He asks in a in a wide-eyed, awe struck way. Not a “ghoul children are about to eat me” kind of way. This will prove a mistake, I think, in a minute.
The camera spins around and we see Christmasland proper for the first time. It’s a giant, moon lit, amusement park and it’s undeniably spectacular in its grandeur. The Charlie Manx-esque Man in the Moon smiles down upon them all.
Charlie honks his horn and the Ghoul Children of Christmasland come out, all shiny hook smiles. Sheriff Joe, still in his stupor, drops to his knees to hug Ghoul Daniel Moore. It’s a touching moment … until Daniel tells Sheriff Bly that he’s the “drifter” and buries a pair of scissors in Joe’s chest. The rest of the Ghoul Children descend upon Joe, hacking him to pieces with their scissors.
Millie pulls away from the crowd and tells her father that’s she missed him. They hold hands and Charlie looks on, serenely, at his flock butchering and devouring Sheriff Joe.
“It’s good to be home, child.”
As we enter the back end of the season, I think we can expect that the action and developments are going to come faster and faster. Tonight, we got closure on the Nebraska scrap yard and Mrs. Myers long suffering vendetta against Charlie Manx. Unfortunately, it did not have a happy ending. But, it was fascinating to watch Charlie de-age right before our eyes.
If nothing else, this scene proved definitively that the life of the Charlie Manx is inextricably linked to the Life of the Wraith. If the Wraith does not work, Charlie Manx cannot survive. This will prove to be crucial information for the Season’s endgame, I am sure.
Also, a big development tonight was that we saw doubt creep into Bing’s eyes for the first time. Twice, tonight, he questioned Charlie and his promises. Of course, Charlie still needs Bing and so he’s not ready to “Ives” him quite yet but Bing has the right idea to be worried about his time left on this Earth.
Maggie began a descent into addiction which, based on the way Sheriff Joe reacted, is an old, dark habit of hers. You have to wonder if Sheriff Joe’s abduction from his home will be enough to bring Maggie back to her destiny, back to her Scrabble Tiles or, has she not hit rock bottom quite yet?
And, poor Vic. She’s at a crossroads in her Hero’s Journey. She’s lost the tool she needs to fight Manx and rescue Haley (among the others that are missing) and she’s been cut off from her guide, Maggie the Mage. Together with the last straw of her shitty father’s behavior and creepy, antagonistic calls from Christmasland, and Vic was at a low point tonight. She knows what she needs to do but she has no idea how she can possibly achieve any of it. Hopefully, a nice drug induced sleep will right Vic and she’ll be back on track next week!
Before we get to Vic’s dirtbag dad, can we talk about Millie Manx and how she positioned herself as Vic’s enemy, tonight? When Vic eventually makes it to Christmasland for the final battle for the Ghoul Children’s souls, it looks like Vic will not only have to fight Charlie but his loving Ghoul Daughter as well. Yikes!
Last, what do we make of Chris’s behavior at the end of the episode. It’s one thing to clean up the empties of your passed out girlfriend, it’s another to toss a half filled bottle of booze. Did Vic’s admonishment in the bar right Chris, make him see the error of his ways in a significant way? I think the test of that new mettle will be what Chris does once Tiffany regains consciousness. It’s easy to make good choices when no bad influence is calling you on it. Time will tell.
Thanks for reading and Live Tweeting with me. Join me next week for Episode 8 of NOS4A2, “Parnassus.” NOS4A2 airs on Sunday nights at 10pm (ET/PT) on AMC.
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